After Shock

Beginning the process of parenting a grandchild

After Shock

When our 20-year-old daughter found out she was pregnant and we knew she would not be raising it, decisions had to be made, most of which were out of our control.

We wanted the best for our soon-to-be grandchild, but ultimately we had to be patient, and guide our daughter the best we could. Since she had both physical and mental challenges, we had to get professional help for her and for us.

Just before her pregnancy, she had been hospitalized in the psych ward of the hospital for slicing her arms and legs up with a razor blade. Upon her release she had been assigned a psychologist at the County Mental Health Division, so we scheduled an appointment with that psychologist to update her on the situation and get advice on how to move forward with decisions.

We then got her medical attention, so that we would know that our daughter's health would be monitored, especially her heart, as her baby grew and the strain on her body would be managed.

Immediately we found some medication that would help to stabilize our daughter's mental state that would also be safe during her pregnancy. It wasn't easy to find, and any medication would still have potential to have some impact on our daughter's unborn child. Ultimately what we discovered was a combination of Omega's and some herbal teas that made the best combination with least risk.

As we got past the first trimester, our daughter was struggling to make a decision on what plan she wanted for her child. She considered traditional adoption, open adoption, and we found out later that she had considered an abortion, despite our feelings against it. Fortunately by the time she had sought information on an abortion, it was too late.

She didn't know whether she wanted us to raise the child, and she was also still waiting to hear back from the child's father. He was aware of the pregnancy but wasn't sure what he wanted either.

Bringing a child into the world requires so much planning, all while dealing with hormones and emotional highs and lows in the best of circumstances. In this situation, all of this was elevated.

When she was 5 months pregnant, still living in her apartment in Denver, I went to visit and found she had cut her wrist. Not enough to be a suicide attempt, but it was her self harm back in action. She had struggled greatly with self harm throughout adolescence and so this came as no surprise. After she got physical care, we called a therapist, which she refused to go see, which was also typical for her.

A week later, I received a disturbing phone call. It was my daughter. She was distraught and she was threatening to drive herself into a brick wall. Her hormones were out of control and she was obviously not taking the medication that we had gotten for her.

After seeking legal and psychological support, we took custody of our daughter, paid off her lease, and moved her home with us. It was difficult. She did not want to move out of her apartment. I tried to reach the baby's father, but by now he was not returning phone calls regarding our daughter or her unborn child.

A few weeks after we got her home and stabilized, she made the decision. If we would agree to her terms, she would like us to raise her baby, which we now knew was a baby girl.

After some negotiation, we agreed. One of the negotiated terms was that after the advice of her psychologist, she would have a tubal ligation to ensure that she could not get pregnant again. We also agreed that she would live with us 6 months after the baby was born for bonding purposes, but that because of her instability, that if at any time her behaviors became detrimental to the child, she would have to leave.

Legal papers were drawn up and we all signed, with the exception of the father, who still at this point was not returning phone calls.

Our beautiful granddaughter was born healthy and strong. Our daughter, however, faced some life threatening difficulties during childbirth and spent the first couple of months in and out of the hospital managing complications.

When health issues settled and a plan in place, our daughter stayed with us and things ran very smoothly until our granddaughter was 8 months old. Because of our daughter's health complications we had extended the 6 months... It was the right thing to do... but it added some trouble that we didn't expect. We would get used to that... Everything added trouble that we couldn't anticipate...!

immediate family
Michelle Edwards Szynskie
Michelle Edwards Szynskie
Read next: Understanding the Effects of Addiction on the Family
Michelle Edwards Szynskie

Attended Tarrant County College for Psychology, University of Texas, Arlington for Social Work. Certified Cognative Behavioral Therapy Practitioner, NLP Practitioner, Academy of Applied Psychology, Author of "Life's Strategic Umbrella"

See all posts by Michelle Edwards Szynskie